"This past April she found out I had been talking with someone for a while and meeting up with her."

That's the most circumvential way ever of saying "I was cheating on her." ASS doesn't sound like he's even capable of owning what he's done, much less can he function maturely under a new marriage structure. An open marriage isn't going to save this relationship; these two should spend the time and energy they have available to them to design and execute a smooth (as smooth as possible, under the circumstances) dissolution, focusing on co-parenting and on doing as little damage to their children as they can.


I wonder what happened in the 5 years since this was written! I’m guessing they divorced. Monogamy isn’t everyone’s bag but honesty SHOULD be. And they didn’t have that (not even honesty with themselves as commenter 1 pointed out). I hope LW reads this and updates us!


Old letter but yeah? Even if ethical non monogamy ends up working for these two, they have a lot of basic respect/honesty issues that go beyond just admitting that monogamy isn't working for them. I completely agree @1 that the way ASS phrases things shows he isn't taking full responsibility. This letter is just a kneejerk reaction to feeling a taste of his own medicine from his wife.

That means I'd be surprised if they ended up making it work. LW is lying and cheating and jealous to boot-- not a nonmonogomist. Hope he figure it out..but I doubt it.


This guy doesn’t want to stop cheating on his wife. If he did, he would have stopped long ago. What he wants is to continue cheating while requiring her to remain monogamous to him. That, IMO, is why he finds her open marriage suggestion unattractive.

qapla @3 - Agreed that these two are unlikely to make ENM work under their current communication habits. I think their marriage would crash and burn fantastically (which it seems bound to do regardless of openness).


L-dub, you like cheating while simultaneously believing that your spouse is not. Ethical Non-monogamy is going to be a tough transition, emotionally. You have to give up two things that got are drawn to (see 1st sentence). I'm not too hopeful for you, sorry.

I still think you should try it. But maybe go don't ask, don't tell...? Seems the closest ethical option to what you seem to like/need. You're going to have to get over your wife having other sex partners though. Sounds like that's going to be tough for you. Good luck, and try not to fuck up your kids too much with your marriage drama!


Exceptional honesty, communication skills, and a shared sense of fairness are critical attributes that both spouses must possess to make ENM work. Perhaps LW is satisfactory at #2, but he falls well short of prerequisites #1 and #3.
I predict a crash-and-burn in less than 12 months if they try.


Aw jeez, I had FINALLY forgotten that Kinky Mouse video...thanks a lot Dan...


Ha! Kinky mouse was a nice diversion from a routine letter with an obvious answer.


I don't think I can ever forget kinky mouse . . . but god knows, I try.


This guy clearly has no interest in changing. He wrote in in hopes that Dan would basically okay his non-ethical non-monogamy. This guy is a complete ASS. His wife had been seeing a guy for 3 years and was seeing another guy as well, but ASS can't believe she actually wants either of them, which means her wanting to carry on with them is basically just to spite him. Way to make her relationships with other people all about you, ASS.

I suppose this is why Dan is the one giving advice, not me. I'm far more interested in shredding this guy for being horrible, while Dan is doing his best to help turn things around for him. But you gotta want to change in order accept help, and this guy just seems to want more excuses not to change.


I think I remember this one from 2014 but am too lazy to see if I wrote a comment then. It seems to me that up until the point he says he met up with this other woman recently (or recent at the time of writing) that all of his previous infractions were on-line chatting and some kind of credit card related cheating--phone sex? private chaturbate type interactions? But nothing that involved physical contact until this most recent affair. So, I'm guessing that his concern about ethical non-monogamy prior to this most recent affair is that he considered his behavior to be a problem but maybe deep down he didn't consider the behavior to constitute and affair. Yet, his wife fucking someone else was an affair. This is one reading.

The other read, which is much more common among the letters written to Dan: the LW wants to do what he wants but doesn't want the spouse to do the same shit. And that's a no go for me (as well as most folks who reply to these letters).

So, it seems to me there are two choices: don't ask, don't tell (and running up credit card bills is never going to help put this into practice) or ethical non-monogamy. Monogamy isn't going to work for him, nor does it sound like it will work for her.

If he's good looking, he shouldn't need to run up the credit card bills. If he's not good looking, I can understand why he might feel threatened by an open marriage: there's always a chance his wife will split for someone better. Such is life. He brought this on via a pattern of behavior. Now it's time to deal with the consequences.


Yeah, what all y'all said, I doubt this guy had the self-awareness and communication skills to make nonmonogamy work. Maybe he'll show up and tell us though.




An open marriage isn't really, IMO, a valid tool to use in marital compromises, but that's a bit besides the point. If you two can agree on a mutually desirable objective, then go for it as many times as you want. If one of you is "secretly" not working towards the same objective? Pull the plug. By this standard, the plug should already be pulled, but there's no time machine.


Has it really been almost five years since Kinky Mouse, or has this been rerun before? No shame here acknowedging it turned me on. Still the same questions though: is he running his hand across the torso for the viewer, for himself, or both? How much lube is inside the rubber suit? Why does he have bare feet?


Amelia Earhart?! She had no kids and probably liked playing around... Is that your example for women? Because most of us have kids. Monogamy doesn't have to be forever.


First, this guy is a real pierce of cake. Second, he is the poster child for what a douche bag is. Now that I've gotten that out of the way. It is one thing to be a cuckold, it is something else to formally accept/acknowledge that fact. This guy is warped. I definitely don't want to go strolling through his mind..


Change that to "a real piece of work" Even if they opened their marriage does anyone really abide by all rules or boundaries they agree to.


Not really sure that — having only seen one side — George and Amelia's marriage should be a poster child for non-monogamous marriages.

Also seems to me that the issue isn't that LW can't wrap his head around ethical non-monogamy, rather that he's a selfish asshole.


I get what Dan is saying when he says "Monogamy failed you, you didn't fail at monogamy" but I still cringe a bit. We live in a culture where nothing is ever truly our fault because there's always some mitigating factor. We're tied to this concept of ourselves as near-perfect beings and it leads to just about everything bad - the Red/Blue culture wars, tolerance of de facto racism, the incessant narcissism and trolling of social media. We seem to have thrown personal responsibility out the door.

These two people did fail at monogamy. Regularly and spectacularly at that. I think it would be better to say "Yeah, you two sucked at monogamy. But guess what? Monogamy is pretty overrated and you shouldn't feel that bad, lots of people have the same experience. Give yourself a break on it, acknowledge your failure, and try to find a better way."

It's like Calculus. I failed at Calculus, Calculus didn't fail me. But I also don't beat myself up about it because Calculus isn't all that useful and lots of people struggle with it too. There's a better way. Not doing Calculus.


MelissaE @16 Having kids doesn’t mean you can’t be nonmonogamous. I know many poly folks with kids.


These two failed at having a honest relationship with each other, the structure of that relationship was not the problem. Lying was the problem. Having kids when they were both such children themselves, that was also the problem.


@Lavagirl - agreed. The idea that opening this marriage would be helpful makes me think of the joke: “Relationship not working? Add more people!”


Am I scoring this wrong?

He confessed to paid sex chat services and was a weasel about admitting to one affair.

Taking him at his word, I'd say his paid sex chats <<<<<< real fucking as part of a relationship not based on an exchange of cash, so she cheated first.

OK, Putting aside blame and who's the bigger asshole, the advice to both of them (DTMFA) would be dead easy except for the little aside he dropped in at the end: "We also have children and don't want to be apart from them."

Yeah. Maybe they should try being ethical about their non-monogamy, but I'm wondering if a companionate marriage with outside partners for all romantic contact might be better.


Excellent choice of re-run, hasn't aged a bit.

Looking @1: That jumped out at me too. You weren't "meeting up" with another woman, you mealymouth, you were fucking her. Take responsibility. You shat the bed and now you're complaining there's shit in the bed. You've tried to be monogamous, or more accurately, you've pretended to try to be monogamous. You just want your wife to be monogamous while you do whatever you want. Good on your wife for finally saying no to a one-sided-open marriage, and no, you don't get an umpteenth chance to change. You're lucky she wants to stay at all. Accept that your marriage is open because you opened it, use condoms and get tested, and perhaps check back in to let us know whether ethical non-monogamy has worked.


Philo @5, I agree. It's clear the sneaking around is part of the thrill for this guy. I don't trust him to adhere to ENM standards of honesty and disclosure. Just accept that sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander and your wife is entitled to the same openness he's claimed for himself. You can't unscrew this pooch, as Dan would say.

Surfrat @11: Pedantic quibble: "Don't ask, don't tell" is ethical. The two ethical options are DADT and full-disclosure non-monogamy. I actually hope his wife did run off with one of her other partners.

Melissa @16: Seconding that parenthood and polyamory don't have to be mutually exclusive. It would be more difficult to find time for multiple ongoing relationships and kids, but it's not impossible to have less-involved secondary relationships (ie flings).

Larry @20, great post.


dcp123 @24 He does say "it started" with the sex chats and the credit card bills were how his wife found out. I took that to mean his infidelity started online and escalated soon after, but I guess he could mean the whole situation started with that. I think he's implying further actions on his part without wanting to spell them out and own up to them.


Calliope @27 re DCP, even if she did exchange bodily fluids before he had done so, she cheated after multiple YEARS of his running up big credit card bills on sex workers, seeing counselors, promising to stop, not stopping, running up more big credit card bills, getting caught again, seeing more counselors, promising to stop again, and not stopping again. I don't think a plausible agreement can be made that the wife is the one who violated the wedding vows "first."


*plausible argument.


Haven't we agreed that "open marriage" is a step toward divorce? I mean, she's been seeing another guy for THREE YEARS...


It's also not a one to one ratio. No scorecard. She'll always have more partners than he does and that's for the better, she'll be less likely to get attached. It's fair bc they both get to do the thing, number of partners is not relevant, time spent away is. And he's gonna need a lot more of that probably.


Tim @30, who is "we"? I've been seeing one guy for eight years and another for five and a half, your point? So, no. An open marriage may be a step toward divorce, it may be a step towards a saved marriage, it may make no difference whatsoever. If these two split, it was because of his fundamental dishonesty, not because they decided to make things openly open instead of cheatingly open.

Ms No @31: "She'll always have more partners than he does" -- I disagree. She may always have more -potential- partners than he does. But she may be more picky, and/or spend more time taking care of those kids (remember them?), so it may even out or she may have fewer partners. (Particularly since paid partners are part of his equation.) You're right, though, that counting up the partners is not an accurate test of whether things are "fair."


larrystone007@20: You say Calculus "isn't all that useful".

As I'm sure you know, Calculus is absolutely phenomenally spectacularly useful. Enormously many of the luxuries and staples in your life, both large and small, could never have come about without Calculus.

What you're actually saying is: you've outsourced the doing of the Calculus to other people, and therefore you don't have to do any of it yourself. Which is fine.

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